By Comfort Obeng
The Toronto Police are launching a new campaign called Paws for a Cause, drawing on dog walkers to create neighbourhood awareness and prevent home break-ins.
The campaign was pitched to a dog walking group in Scarborough called Rouge Hill Dog Owners.
“We want people to help us to keep themselves safe,” Crime prevention officer Const. Gary Gomez told Humber News on Monday. “It’s people getting involved in their own safety and their own solutions. If you can do that, that’s a win-win for everybody except for the criminals.”
“It’s not necessarily about looking for crime but just about looking out for each other,” a member of the Rouge Hill Dog Owner Association Cindy Bruce-Barrett told Humber News. “It seems like a great opportunity to get some training to be able to do that properly.”
This campaign is different because it takes advantage of the fact that dog walkers already have a presence in the neighbourhood, said Bruce-Barrett.
She owns a Shih tzu terrier which she walks threes times a day. From her own experience, Bruce-Barrett said that it’s brought the community together.
“When we first put the post out when the initiative was happening, we were amazed by the response from the neighbourhood,” she said.
Toronto police used this method two years ago asking seniors for their help. It was called the Senior Neighbourhood Safety Walk program, which was the first campaign using the strategy.
The goal of that campaign was to get seniors comfortable with law enforcement by having them working together.
Const. Gomez told Humber News you don’t need to have a dog to be able to participant in Paws for a Cause.
“[Paws for a Cause] is for anybody,” said Const. Gomez. “The dog walking thing was a different spin on it. If you’re out there and you see anything suspicious just call us.”
The new campaign is reminiscent of the Take a Bite out of Crime program.
Take a Bite out of Crime was an American campaign that used a cartoon detective dog called McGruff to create crime awareness in children. Now, Toronto police are using real dogs to help them keep an extra eye out in the Scarborough community.